Why won’t you catch the opossum in my back yard?

The city of Fresno is situated near a major river that produces an abundant and diverse population of wildlife, whereby residents must learn to cohabitate with in order to preserve the natural conditions and habitats of this region.  Fresno’s population of wild animals within its borders includes foxes, raccoons, opossums, squirrels, rats, skunks, coyotes, snakes, pigeons, and geese to name a few.  The more the city expands its borders by building new neighborhoods, the more the local wildlife will be forced into residential areas.

Unfortunately, the city’s leash law does not pertain to wild animals.  As such, we do not send our animal control officers out for wildlife wandering or flying through the neighborhoods.  We do not trap or relocate healthy wildlife.  It is the California Department of Fish and Game ‘s responsibility to manage wild animals and they can be contacted at 559-222-3761 for assistance.

However, if city residents capture and contain a wild animal, we will send one of our animal control officers out to pick it up at no charge, as we have an agreement with the Fresno Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation organization for rehoming.

We will also respond to injured wildlife calls, along with animals creating a traffic hazard.

And if the animal is considered a threat to the public, we will assist local law enforcement to contain the animal for the California Department of Fish and Game.

Residents of Fresno County need to call the California Department of Fish and Game for assistance with wildlife.  However, we will respond for pick-up of a sick or injured wild animal.  For pick-up dead animals in the county, residents will need to call their local animal control agency.

Remember, wild animals living within the city limits are here to stay.  There is no way that any agency or organization is going to be able to eradicate them, nor should they.  By doing your part to make your home less attractive to them, they will more than likely move on to greener pastures.  Be aware, but not afraid of them.  They are not here to hurt you; they are just trying to survive in a place that we created for them by moving into their habitats and homes.

Listed below are some simple tips to help you peacefully co-exist with your wild neighbors.



  • Pick up food and water before dark.
  • Once your pet is inside for the night, lock all pet doors.



  • Replace plastic trashcans with metal ones and secure the top.  Secure trashcans to a fence.
  • If you catch an animal in the midst of a raid, do NOT attempt to pick up or corner the animal.  Use bright lights or loud noises to frighten the visitor(s) away.
  • Close the areas around decks, hot tubs, spas, sheds, porches, foundations, and stairways.



Skunks are omnivorous and eat anything from acorns to small rodents. They are nocturnal and leave their burrow homes just after sunset to search for food.  A three-foot high wire mesh fence, extended six inches beneath the ground’s surface, will keep skunks out of the fenced area.

If your companion animal is sprayed, we recommend the following recipe.  Skunk spray will dissipate over time.

De-Skunking Recipe

1 quart 3% Hydrogen Peroxide

1/4 cup Baking Soda

1 tsp Liquid Soap

Mix and apply immediately to sprayed areas, avoiding eyes and nose. Hose off and re-apply if necessary.  Must be mixed just before using.  CAUTION: Do not bottle!


These nocturnal animals roam looking for insects, fruits, vegetables, acorns, seeds, fish, and small animals.  Prevention is the key to preventing problems with raccoons. Place ammonia stations in the areas of your yard that raccoons frequent.  To do this, take a shallow dish or bowl, place a rag in it and pour ammonia over the rag until saturated.  Place enough ammonia in the dish so the rag will continue to wick it up through the night.  Avoid lawn areas, as the ammonia will burn the lawn.



Opossums look for food during the night and will eat just about anything.  Opossums may roll over on their side and play dead if startled.  If they do this, just leave them alone.  When it is safe, they will scurry away.  Place ammonia-soaked rags, mothballs in socks, and/or cayenne pepper in strategic places on your property.


Relocating Wild Animals

Moving animals can spread disease, not just between the old community and the new, but also between species. Viruses such as distemper and parvo thrive in new hosts.


Relocation also gives the animal a slim chance of survival against the other animals who already have established territories, who know where to find food, and where to hide from predators. The practice of trapping and relocating animals risks separating mothers from their young and leaving the babies behind to die.


Additional Wildlife Resources:

Fresno Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation

California Department of Fish and Game

Humane Society of the United States